Native American Youth Address Cultural Challenges in Storytelling Workshops
A new film that delves into the complex cultural, historical, and social issues of Native Americans provides the context for a series of events designed to empower teens as storytellers.
Winter in the Blood is a film based on the novel of the same name by Blackfeet author James Welch. It tells the story of Virgil First Raise, a young man of uncertain genealogy and confusing family relationships, wounded by physical weakness, yielding to alcohol, and yearning for love. The film, which was featured at the Los Angeles Film Festival, addresses the difficult issues of domestic abuse, violence, alcoholism, and suicide facing native populations in America.
How do tribal communities assist their youth in reversing these stories so that they can live, thrive, and assume their rightful roles as community leaders? This is where media, such as a film, can help serve as the bridge to bring tribal youth together not only for discussion but also to provide a mechanism for them to reflect on their lives and consider their futures.
To bring these issues into a real-world context, Winter in the Blood is the cornerstone of a series of day-long digital media and storytelling workshops for Native youth in Montana. The workshops, created in partnership with the Fetzer Institute, are led by the film’s directors, producers, actors, and writers. Designed as safe spaces for teens to reflect on the themes of the film, participants will tap into their own stories and those of their community.
The film's directors (twin brothers Alex and Andrew Smith) will document the workshops and share findings on the Winter in the Blood website and social media channels. In addition, an event kit is being created so others can form their own discussion groups and workshops. Key takeaways from the sessions will be shared with audiences prior to screenings. Partnerships with the Montana Film Office and other governmental agencies are being pursued.
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on Information and Communications.